Nellie Tayloe Ross
Back to the Nellie Tayloe Ross Room
Nellie Tayloe Ross was born November 29, 1876 near St. Joseph, Missouri. She was educated in public and private schools, and attended a kindergarten training school in Omaha, Nebraska. She taught school for a few years in Omaha before coming to Cheyenne in 1902, following her marriage to William B. Ross. Mr. Ross began a law practice in Wyoming and eventually became active in politics. He was elected as Wyoming’s governor in the 1922 election.
Mrs. Ross was an avid supporter of her husband. When he died in office in October, 1924, the Secretary of State, as Acting Governor, called for a special election. The Democratic Party nominated Mrs. Ross to complete her husband’s term. She initially declined, but upon reflection accepted the nomination. She felt she was the best qualified to understand her husband’s goals and work to realize them.
Mrs. Ross won the election handily and became the first woman governor in the United States when she was inaugurated 16 days before Miriam A. Ferguson of Texas. She served from January 5, 1925 to January 3, 1927, losing a bid for re-election.
Following her defeat Mrs. Ross continued to be a much sought speaker. She was appointed as a vice-chairman of the Democratic National Committee in 1928, and directed the party’s women’s division. She campaigned extensively for Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932. Following his inauguration in 1933, Roosevelt appointed Mrs. Ross to the position of Director of the United States Mint, a position she held until 1953. After her retirement she continued to reside in Washington, D.C., and kept busy with speaking engagements. She died in 1977 at the age of 101.